Of the many great characters in Marvel’s mega-hit Guardians of the Galaxy, few were as surprising as Yondu Udonta, the ruthless (albeit animal-figurine-loving) surrogate father of Peter Quill, a/k/a Star-Lord. And no one’s as pleased by the reaction the space pirate has received from fans than the man beneath the blue face paint, Michael Rooker. In the midst of working on his next project, the actor took the time to celebrate Guardians‘ release on Blu-ray and DVD next week by chatting with us about the past, present and future of his character.
Nerdist: Director James Gunn has said he wrote Yondu with you in mind…
Michael Rooker: I kind of love that. I like that a lot.
N: How did James first describe the character to you?
MR: When he first approached me he told me that he was gonna be pretty much based on who I am, and Merle Dixon and the comic book Yondu — a combination of all three. I was thrilled of course. When it came to be and I actually got cast, and Marvel and Disney were on board, I was a happy camper.
N: By the end of Guardians of the Galaxy we still don’t quite know if Yondu’s a good guy or a bad guy…
MR: Yeah, that’s the best part of doing a role. If people walk away from the movie with more questions than answers, that’s when you know you’ve done your job. You don’t want to give them everything, right? You want them to enjoy the movie, and end the movie with more questions than answers. Then I’m a happy camper. Otherwise, it’s like, “Okay, I’ve got to feed you all the answers and tell you everything? [Laughs]
N: How do you view Yondu’s relationship with Peter Quill…
MR: Yondu is his dad, basically. A surrogate father. He looks at him as his boy. He’s raised him, and he’s very proud of the fact that he is a renegade. He’s very proud that his surrogate son is as bad as he is, and willing to disagree with him and fight with him. I think gets Yondu’s respect because of that.
N: How long was the makeup process?
MR: It was really only about three and a half hours or so. Four hours at the most. It turned out pretty great. We did the prosthetic and then we went to the paint room and did all this airbrushing. The airbrushing was the part that took the longest.
N: Is there a direction you’d like to see Yondu take in the sequel?
MR: Yeah, I tell you. I’m really open and ready for whatever occurs. I know I’m gonna be in the sequel, and I know that it’s just gonna be an exploration into developing this character a little more so the fans can appreciate who Yondu really is. I’m looking forward to it.
N: With the major question posed by the first film being the mystery of Peter’s father, it would seem Yondu’s role will be even greater in the sequel.
MR: It seems like it would be. You never know what’s going to happen in sequels though. I don’t know much about the sequel. We’ll find out soon enough.
N: Have you met any Yondu cosplayers?
MR: Oh yeah, I’ve seen elderly gentleman cosplaying as Yondu and I’ve seen seven-year-old kids as Yondu. And very lovely young ladies dressed as Yondu as well. I’ve seen a lot of Groots and Rocket Raccoons as well. And a bunch of Star-Lords. [Laughs]
N: What are you working on now?
MR: I’m right in the middle [of Bolden!], a movie that’s the mythical story of the great jazz musician Buddy Bolden. It’s a period piece set in 1906, and it’s about the rise and fall of this amazing musician, who’s sort of the grandfather of jazz. The first king of jazz. A lot of individuals have copied his style. That’s an amazing story that not a lot of people know about.
N: Cool. Is that something we’ll see next year?
MR: I’m about halfway through my shooting period, and they’re shooting until April. Of course then they have to go into post. It takes a while.
N: One last question — what’s your favorite line from Guardians of the Galaxy?
MR: Favorite line from Guardians… You know what, I can’t think of a favorite line that I have. Do you have a favorite?
N: It’s almost impossible to choose. The script is so rich.
MR: My favorite line really is a sequence of lines. They were used by my character when I was speaking with the broker and interrupting him. [Laughs] That was such an awesome, interesting scene. We were all cracking up laughing and wetting our britches.
N: That scene nicely encapsulates the movie — a perfect mixture of human and menace.
MR: Oh man. It was an absolute pleasure to do.
N: It shows. All of you guys look like you’re having a ball… Thank you so much for your time today, Michael. We love the film, and we’re dying for that sequel.
MR: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you. I’m looking forward to the DVD and the Blu-ray. I want to see everything again! [Laughs]
Guardians of the Galaxy is available on Digital HD and Disney Movie Anywhere now, and will be released on Blu-ray, DVD, and On-Demand December 9, 2014.